A wage is a payment per hour that for the period of employment suits the worker and the employer in a free market. The worker determines if he is willing to meet the requirements of the job, and the employer determines if the result meets his requirements. Most employers of low-wage workers do on-the-job training and set work rules and the quality of performance. Employees meet these or leave. Employers may give increasing responsibility and more difficult tasks and increase the pay. This is how the capitalist world works.
A government edict doesn’t change the above discussion; it only raises the level of performance required for the job. President Obama proposes raising the current minimum wage to nearly $9 an hour. The employer is forced to raise prices, cut his profit margin, let go the least productive workers and/or make do with less business. The usual result is some combination of all four.
The next question is: Why not make every job pay a living wage? What is a living wage? Perhaps $10 an hour with minimum benefits is a living wage for one person assuming, 2,000 hours a year in some locations (cost of living, state taxes). Or $20 an hour would be about $40,000 per year, and be near the middle class for a family of four in some locations. Edict $30 an hour and everyone working will be middle class.
Now the question is: How many of us are working, and how much in taxes are we paying? Every government regulation concerning wages, working conditions, medical insurance, vacation, sick pay, maternity pay, etc., affects how many jobs are available.